Nfld. & Labrador

Slim pickings for laid-off Kiewit workers in Marystown

The union that represents laid-off shipyard workers in Marystown says it doesn't know what's next for 1,300 people who are looking for new work, after the completion of a drilling module for the Hebron project.
The Hebron drilling support module getting ready to leave Marystown. (Bridget Simms/Submitted)

The union that represents laid-off shipyard workers in Marystown says it doesn't know what's next for 1,300 people who are looking for new work, after the completion of a drilling module for the Hebron project.

"Bittersweet," is how Rick Farrell, president of Unifor local 20, described the end of the three-year job.

"Great production, great quality by the workforce here in Marystown, but at the same time we know we're going to be laid off just before Christmas, and probably it will be a long while before we get any more future work."

The well-paying jobs with Kiewit-Kvaerner allowed the workers to stay close to home with their families, said Farrell, but the work ended in early December.

Hundreds of workers enjoyed well-paying jobs for three years at the Kiewit facility in Marystown. (CBC)

The drilling support module will be towed to Bull Arm, for assembly with other components of the Hebron gravity-based production system.

"Right now, there's only one opportunity out there," Farrell told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show on Wednesday. 

"Work for the topsides mating barges for this Hebron project. We've bid on it, Marystown-Kiewit has, but the bid has gone international."

There may be some opportunities at Bull Arm or Muskrat Falls over the next year or so, said Farrell, but for the Marystown yard, "there's nothing on the go at all, unfortunately."

There is no work planned for the Marystown yard, and the union representing workers there says jobs are drying up in Alberta as well. (Kiewit)

Opportunities in Alberta have slowed down considerably as well — a challenge for tradespeople and the 600 apprentices who worked on the Hebron module.

"This oil industry is project-driven, and it's boom and bust on most occasions. You have to put your nose to the grindstone, search out smaller jobs and smaller worksites in the country," said Farrell.

He said the union is hoping to speak with Judy Foote, the MP for Bonavista–Burin–Trinity, who is also the Minister of Public Services and Procurement.

"Hopefully, that might work to our advantage, going forward."


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